Catholic Church Singled Out In Australian Sex Abuse Report
In a far-reaching report on child sex abuse in Australia, a government commission is recommending that the country's Catholic Church lift its celibacy requirement for diocesan clergy and be required to report evidence of abuse revealed in confession.
Those are among the 400 recommendations contained in the 17-volume final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which is wrapping up a five-year investigation – the longest in Australia’s history.
“We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades,” the report said.
The Australian reports: “More than 15,000 people contacted the commission to share their experiences of abuse, more than 8,000 of them spoke personally with the commissioner about the trauma it caused, and approximately 2,500 cases have now been referred to police.”
The commission said the church failed to properly address allegations and concerns of victims, calling the Church’s response to them “remarkably and disturbingly similar.”
The report also detailed abuse in churches of other denominations and at such institutions as schools and sports clubs. However, it concluded that the greatest number of alleged abuse perpetrators were found in Catholic institutions. The commission has concluded that 7 percent of priests who worked in Australia between 1950 and 2009 had been accused of child sex abuse.
Among the report’s recommendations:
— A national strategy to prevent child abuse, with a national office of child safety.
— Making failure to protect a child from risk of abuse within an institution a criminal offense on the state and territory level.
— Implementing preventative training for children in schools and early childhood center.
— A requirement that candidates for religious ministry undergo external psychological testing.
— Any person in a religious ministry subject to a substantiated child sex abuse complaint should be permanently removed from the ministry.